Joplin housing coalition considers shifting focus - Word&Way

Joplin housing coalition considers shifting focus

While some rebuilding continues in Joplin from a tornado that devastated the town two years ago, one housing coalition is considering shifting its focus.

Volunteers work on a home for the Fuller Center for Housing Joplin. Birthed out of the need to replace homes destroyed by a tornado in May 2011, the organization is considering shifting its focus to other housing needs. (Fuller Center photo)

The Fuller Center for Housing Joplin organization, which will dedicate its third home June 20, is “looking at redirecting” its efforts, noted Bob Barker, co-director of the Joplin center.

“We’ve had fewer applications [from those hit in May 2011] than what we had early on…. Now we are looking at trying to fill other needs,” he said.

“The Fuller Center was birthed out of the disaster…but it wasn’t formed just to deal with the aftermath of disaster. But now we’re here to stay.”

The Joplin group may expand two Fuller programs — blighted neighborhoods and the Greater Blessing program.

Greater Blessing assists people with a major repair need that will cost $5,000 or less. Each person helped receives a “blessing box” of envelopes to encourage him or her to pay back the cost of the repair over as long a time-period as needed.

“The payment is just reimbursement for materials, and it would go into a fund to help another family,” Barker said.

Those assisted are asked to pay what they can “because we want them to be invested…to help them break cycles,” he added.

The blighted neighborhood program would assist the economically disadvantaged, the elderly and people with disabilities in a particular area. Generally, the projects would cost more than $5,000. Most would require a mortgage but at a lower rate.

The group plans to continue to construct homes, likely one or two new ones each year.

Joplin center leaders hope to strengthen partnerships with congregations with which to pair those they assist. “We want to partner with local churches…so that…every family we work with…will have a connection…in a way that Fuller can’t do,” Barker said.

Opportunities are available for individuals and groups who want to help with repair and building projects. Visit fuller for more information.